GENET archive


2-Plants: India develops non-GE pest-resistant cotton

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  India Develops New Pest-resistant Cotton Varieties
SOURCE: Financial Express, India, by Ashok B. Sharma
DATE:   28 Jun 2004 

------------------- archive: -------------------

India Develops New Pest-resistant Cotton Varieties

NEW DELHI, JUNE 27: In a path-breaking achievement, Indian plant breeders
have developed several new genotypes of cotton, which can not only
revolutionise the domestic textile industry, but also bail out
neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, which are likely to
be affected on account of the phaseout of the MFA export quotas in
December 31, 2004.

There new cotton genotypes, developed through "shuttle breeding" by a
team of scientists led by Dr RP Singh and Dr Jagmail Singh of the Indian
Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), can be grown even in non-
traditional areas of the South Asia in spring, namely February and
harvested before the arrival of the monsoon in June.

The varieties which have undergone station field trial will be released
for commercial cultivation after three years of countrywide coordinated
field trials.

The industry feels that if these medium staple varieties are grown in
non-traditional areas, India can substaintially reduce it imports of
cotton, which currently are at 10 per cent. The secretary-general of
Indian Cotton Mills Federation, (ICMF), DK Nair, welcomed the
developments, and said "at least cotton will be available for the
industry in the lean season."

"These spring-summer varieties can yield two tonne per hectare without
application of any pesticide or the controversial Bt-type genetic
engineering as the incidence of pests in the period is practically nil,"
said a scientist of the research team.

Normally cotton is sown in May and harvested in October and it requires
12 to 13 sprays of pesticides to prevent attacks from American Bollworm
and leaf curl virus.

"Comparatively, these new varieties which will not require any spray of
pesticides would entail a considerable savings for farmers," said the
IARI director, Dr S Nagarajan.

A senior official of the agriculture ministry said, "in the next meeting
of the SAARC Technical Committee on Agriculture, we will suggest to
member countries like Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to adopt these varieties."

According to a study conducted by Oxfam International, Bangladesh, which
is not yet a cotton growing country and depends on imports of yarns and
fibres for manufacturing garmets for exports is likely to be worst
affected in event MFA quota phaseout.

The European Union rules of 'country of origin' prescribe that imports
from any country can be restricted if it fails to show two stages of
transformation in the exporting country, namely from yarn to fabric and
from fabric to clothing.

In this context, a senior official of the agriculture ministry said,
"Bangladesh can now go for cotton production for maintaining its exports
of garments and need not explain to the importing countries on value
addition. The proposed South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) can soon become
a reality with increase cooperation among member countries."

The IARI director, Dr Nagarajan, said, "these new genotypes are for
sowing in spring, preferably in February when the temperature is cool.
The early sowing of the crop will lead to pod formation in May/June when
there is scorching summer heat and low humidity in the atmosphere.

The scorching heat coupled with low humidity automatically creates
conditions where pests cannot occur. Thus the farmers need not use any
pesticides. The pests occur when the humidity level is above 70 per cent."

Dr Nagarajan, while confirming the possibilities of these varieties being
grown in Bangladesh, said, "the new genotypes were successfully grown in
non-traditional areas like Sunderbans in West Bengal, where the average
yield was 20 quintal per hectare.

He said that the crop is of 110 days duration as against the normal
period of 150 days in case of other cotton crops. The average yield
potential of the new varieties is two tonne per hectare as against 3-3.5
tonne in case of other varieties but the reduction in harvesting period
by 40 days is an advantage for farmers.

"We are also experimenting to increase the yield of these new varieties,"
he said.

The scheme to develop these new genotypes of early sown cotton varieties
are a part of the World Bank-assisted National Agriculture Technology
Project (NATP). Apart from IARI, the Haryana Ariculture University,
Punjab agriculture University and Central Cotton Research Institute
(CCRI) are developing similar varieties of cotton."


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
Kleine Wiese 6
D - 38116 Braunschweig

P: +49-531-5168746
F: +49-531-5168747
M: +49-162-1054755
E: coordination(*)
W: <>

   GENET-news mailing list